WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

Re: WCAG 1.0/2.0 and buttons that open a new window?


From: Christophe Strobbe
Date: Jun 25, 2008 3:40AM


At 23:52 24/06/2008, you wrote:
>Passing on a question from a colleague:
>"Based on either WCAG 1.0 or WCAG 2.0, I've been looking for direction
>regarding the opening of new windows and notifying the user beforehand.
>In order to notify the user beforehand that an element will open a new
>window, I've seen references to providing titles on hyperlinks and alt
>on input type of image (understanding that entry input types of radio,
>text, checkbox, file, and password shouldn't open new windows
>automatically). However, I can't seem to find any reference to how to
>implement notification to the user that an input type of button will
>open a new window.
>Can you indicate whether it is a requirement to notify the user if an
>input type of button opens a new window? If the answer is yes, can you
>provide some guidance on how this would be implemented in the code
>(e.g., through the use of title, alt, etc.)?"

The relevant WCAG 1.0 requirement is checkpoint 10.1:
"Until user agents allow users to turn off spawned windows, do not
cause pop-ups or other windows to appear and do not change the
current window without informing the user. [Priority 2]"
This clearly covers both links and form controls.
The title attribute on hyperlinks shouldn't be considered a
sufficient technique; see <http://www.paciellogroup.com/blog/?p=37>;
and the resources referenced there.

A notification about a new window needs to be available to everyone,
including sighted users who can't use a pointing device, and not only
screen readers users who have changed certains settings of their AT.

In WCAG 2.0, the relevant success criterion is SC 3.2.2:
"'On Input': Changing the setting of any user interface component
does not automatically cause a change of context unless the user has
been advised of the behavior before using the component. (Level A)"
Opening a new window is an example of a "change of context".

In the case of an image button, it wouldn't be sufficient to put the
notification in the button's alt attribute.
If the image button is just an isolated button (i.e. not for form
submission), why not use a link with proper link text instead? If you
don't want to replace the image button with a link, you need to
notify the user before the button.

If the image button submits a form, the user needs to be notified
before the button. Notification above the form isn't much good if the
form is long or complex, because people may forget about it by the
time they submit the form (and people may even get distracted while
filling in a short form).
However, I don't understand why a form would need to be submitted to
a new window. This is so unusual that it is questionable from a
usability perspective.

Best regards,


Christophe Strobbe
K.U.Leuven - Dept. of Electrical Engineering - SCD
Research Group on Document Architectures
Kasteelpark Arenberg 10 bus 2442
B-3001 Leuven-Heverlee
tel: +32 16 32 85 51
Please don't invite me to LinkedIn, Facebook, Quechup or other
"social networks". You may have agreed to their "privacy policy", but
I haven't.

Disclaimer: http://www.kuleuven.be/cwis/email_disclaimer.htm